Communication support

Deaf children's charity OHF supports The Elizabeth Foundation for deaf babies and toddlersThe Elizabeth Foundation

Since 2018, we have supported The Elizabeth Foundation’s Let’s Listen and Talk outreach programme by funding the part-time salary of a Qualified Teacher of the Deaf.

Let’s Listen and Talk is an online programme for the parents of deaf babies and toddlers. The Qualified Teacher of the Deaf supports parents enrolled on the programme by providing advice on all aspects of hearing loss and early education.

The service has been incredibly important during the pandemic because it has reached families in the home. In order to help as many families as possible at the start of the pandemic,  The Elizabeth Foundation waived all fees, providing free access to their home learning and support programme. The service remains free in 2023, with over 1,000 individuals and families from across the UK having benefited from the service. ‘With your help we have been able to keep our Let’s Listen and Talk free of charge and with positive outcomes for all,’ said Karen, their Deputy Chief Executive.

Sound Waves Foundation

We are supporting Sound Waves Foundation, a small, recently registered charity committed to improving inclusivity and accessibly for deaf children and young people by promoting the use of live captioning in classrooms. Following our support of a successful research pilot during early summer 2022, we then funded the expansion of live captioning to four schools in East Sussex.  The project is currently benefiting around 400 students (both hearing and deaf). Research into the outcomes of using speech-to-text Artificial Intelligence in classrooms will inform this project going forward.

‘By OHF taking a leap of faith in us, it has led to some amazing things and taken us further forwards than we would have imagined,’ said co-founders and Trustees Nicola and Silvie.

Talking Hands Coffee Shop and Studio

We have supported Talking Hands, a social enterprise coffee shop and studio and community hub established in Sussex by two former Ovingdean Hall School students, Caroline and John Palmer.

Caroline and John’s eldest son and their twins, a son and daughter, are hearing, and the couple are committed to bringing deaf and hearing people together.

In recent years, they have run activities for the hearing and deaf community in their Hassocks-based coffee shop and studio, including quiz nights, wreath making, British Sign Language (BSL) Club for deaf and hearing children, mother and toddler groups, deaf teenagers monthly gathering and musical performances.

They also run BSL courses. We have funded a Level 1 BSL course for ten deaf children and their families. This moved online during the pandemic, and Caroline reported that some participants found these meetings eased loneliness during lockdown. ‘The course has helped huge amounts,’ said one mother, ‘My son is also becoming a very quick learner and he is only two and half years old!’

We have also supported Talking Hands’ careers service for deaf young people Employment Training Support Service (ETSS). Caroline and John offer signposting and guidance about job applications and interviews, training and Access to Work arrangements. For example, they recently supported a young man with his application for a Heavy Goods Vehicle licence.

Both have happy memories of their time at Ovingdean Hall School. John says, ‘OHS was a home for me. Like going into heaven. The best time of my life. If it wasn’t for OHS, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.’ He says he wants to make life better for deaf people, and we are happy (and proud!) to support our former students’ amazing work at Talking Hands.